Saturday, March 10, 2012

 One Week Early

     We're one week early. With no February frost this year everything is blooming, blossoming and ripening one week early. You can tell the minute you walk outdoors; the delicious scent of orange blossoms fills the air. The Wisteria is just beginning to open, and its intoxicating scent practically assaults you when you walk underneath. The Ixia has reappeared in force. Last year we co-opted the flower bed for veggies. So it appears that we have successfully transferred the Ixia into a better spot. This year we will likely try to move the patch again. Although it is a bulb, it grows and spreads from seed. After the flower is spent & drops off, it is very easy to capture the seed & simply spread in the new area.

     Ordinarily all of these would be blooming at least one week later. But it's farm time.
     This week we're seeing the end of our first batch of peas. Peas are easy to grow in the Southwest. They are relatively free of pests, they are fairly cold hardy, they grow vertically so they don't take up much room in a garden, which makes them especially handy in urban settings. You can tuck pea seeds just about everywhere, as long as there is something to climb. Or you can grow them densely, and they will climb on one another, with a minimum of framework.

     We grow Oregon Giant Snow Peas on our little farm. They are deliciously sweet & have a high yield. By planting in succession and tucking in seeds wherever there might be support, we have increased our yield even further. This year I planted one 18" wide plot, which is the main harvest. I also interplanted each of the lettuce plots with peas; good companions as they balance nutritional needs. And I put pea seeds in pots scattered around.

     We planted our first seed on Sept. 27 & pulled our first harvest on Jan. 10. Knowing when to pick is a matter of taste. Oregon Giants are best when a little plump but not too plump. In the picture, the peas on the left are beyond mature, and would taste woody. The peas on the right will be sweet & crunchy & chewy. The peas on the left will be saved to plant next season.

     Peas grow in order to re-seed. Therefore, to continue to have peas, you need to harvest frequently. However, they only live so long. On our little farm, the main crop is about played out. There are very few flowers these days, and the vines are starting to turn yellow & dry up. I am extra glad, now, that I remembered to plant more peas, in succession. I can only promise myself to - next year - plant twice as much!

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